Hoping for growth in Stephenson County, tax funded boards such as city, county, park, library, township, etc. see a shrinking tax base. Not all growth is good. Private growth benefits our county; public (governmental) growth often is cancerous.
Balance is necessary for healthy private growth vs public costs. Our public funded ventures must be trimmed, encouraging private spending. One thing government does well is grow. Good times or bad – taxes are spent and more borrowed for future generations to pay off. Higher taxes & public debt , makes our county less attractive to new business, new residents, new development (except for tax funded development). New ventures funded with tax dollars require hiring, office space, vehicles/travel, utilities, cancerous growth in this economy!
Searching for solutions, folks come up with funding ideas. Such as “add this sales tax and your property taxes won’t go up”! Seriously, anyone believe that line? This gives them 2 taxes to raise in the future - both taxes that drive healthy private growth from our county! When a board complains they are cutting back, ask what their income per year has been. Total income on the audit should be accurate. Showing all income, including monies borrowed cover overspending! Also ask for audit numbers showing total debt, if you aren’t easily scared.
Entering an election cycle, citizens must press the candidates for honest intentions. For those running for re-election let’s look at how they have voted. If they are voting for governmental growth, they need time off to learn addition and subtraction. If newcomers run, we need to examine their character, getting firm commitments as to voting intentions and understanding of government financial matters. We want private growth – not cancerous growth.
Feedback vs. Measurement
By Eastland Superintendent Mark Hansen
Parents are warned about the harmful effects of comparing one of their children to another. Yet we find ourselves today in an era of hyper-accountability, where every outcome is measured and then compared to an outcome for another person or group.
Margaret Wheatley suggests that measurement often has precisely the same effect on an organization as the parent who openly compares one child’s effort, ability, or talent to another’s. Instead of motivating the one child with the example of the other, the act of comparison can generate resentment in the one, and embarrassment in the other. An incessant focus on numbers is almost always counter-productive, as Wheatley explains:
Assumedly, most managers want reliable, high quality work. They want commitment, focus, teamwork, learning, and quality. They want people to pay attention to those things that contribute to performance.
If you agree that these are the general attributes and behaviors you’re seeking, we’d like to ask whether, in your experience, you have been able to find measures that sustain these strong and important behaviors over time. Or if you haven’t succeeded at finding them yet, are you still hopeful that you will find the right measures? Do you still believe in the power of measures to elicit these performance qualities?
Wheatley goes on to say that these behaviors are “never produced by measurement . . .” She describes them as “performance capabilities that emerge as people feel connected to their work and to each other. They are capacities that emerge as colleagues develop a shared sense of what they hope to create together, and as they operate in an environment where everyone feels welcome to contribute to that shared hope.”
Yet Wheatley acknowledges that “. . . measurement is critical. It can provide something that is essential to sustenance and growth: feedback. All life thrives on feedback and dies without it.” Adam Smith recognized the extent to which measurement and comparison are natural human tendencies:
Every faculty in one man is the measure by which he judges of the like faculty in another. I judge of your sight by my sight, of your ear by my ear, of your reason by my reason, of your resentment by my resentment, of your love by my love. I neither have, nor can have, any other way of judging about them.
So measurement itself is not the issue; it’s how we misuse it, or how we react to it, that are typically the source of the problems. We need leaders who understand that numbers are not “sacred,” but rather a means for gathering feedback. And when our leaders present us with measurements, we need to approach that data with a sense of intrigue rather than sensitivity. We need to evaluate the quality of the feedback and use it to foster the commitment, focus, teamwork, learning and quality that are known to contribute to high performance.
By Brian Stewart
IL State Representative, 89th District
Welcome to 2014 and a host of New Year’s resolutions that most of us make at the beginning of the year but by the end of the year realize we need to start over again. Amongst the most popular tends to be lose weight, live a healthier lifestyle, quit smoking, save money, and of course my favorite, take a vacation. For those of you that know me well, you are probably laughing at the last one.
I usually enjoy what I do and believe most of the time that every day is a Friday, a phrase I use often. I am humbled at the opportunity to serve you in the General Assembly and am looking forward to this year in doing my part to make Northwest Illinois a better place to live, work, raise your family, and retire. We are blessed with many capable civic, government, and business leaders in our region.
However, we need to get aggressive and motivated if we expect our communities to continue to grow. The economic playing field in our country is very competitive as are our high school sports teams. Northwest Illinois is known throughout the state for having championship teams in many sports, including the recent 2013 Class 1A State Football Champions Lena-Winslow. We also need to be known as being a champion for working together and growing our economy. This is not always the case. I am not implying we do not have the resources. We in fact do. I would put our agriculture and agri-business community up against anybody, anywhere. Our tourism, history, and the beauty of our area are some of the best in the country and I am proud to have been born here. Our manufacturing and service companies are doing well. The workforce ethics of our rural communities and the belief of an honest day’s pay for an honest day’s work is still alive and well, most of the time.
Our economy needs to grow and we need to put people back to work. As I have said before we need more people working and paying taxes, not more taxes for those that are paying too much. We need to reduce government handouts as most people need a hand up not a hand out. We also need to make sure our cities, villages, counties, and state government are working together to make us more business friendly, not driving business somewhere else.
I also encourage all citizens to take action and stand up for our area. Instead of complaining, get involved and make a difference. Before criticizing, become educated of the real situation. In the words of Winston Churchill, remember that “attitude is a little thing that makes a big difference.”
As I have mentioned in my last two columns, there are hundreds of new laws that became effective on January 1, 2014. A complete list can be found at http://www.ilhousegop.org. Please take note and share them with family, friends, and co-workers.